The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) spearheaded the project to become the latest installment in the process of creating a vibrant cultural destination on the former military base island. Pei Cobb Freed & Partners provided the pro bono design services to the nonprofit LMCC to restore the nearly 150 year old structure on the north edge of the island.
The centre became the first permanent home on the island for LMCC back in 1973, created to serve local artists and the community with grants, studio space, public exhibitions and events. The architects opened the interior of the long and narrow two-story building to accommodate the electric program of the organisations. The building was previously a warren of military offices, but was redeveloped through its original truss structure and created 40,000 square feet of flexible, loft-like space.
It includes a luminous main gallery on the upper level along with an adjoining reception behind a clear glass wall preserving the expansive quality of the space. Smaller rooms are arrayed on both levels that are used for performances, rehearsals and exhibition studios, all receiving natural light. The stair and elevator allow for integrated and accessible programming, while a café on the lower level offers views of Lower Manhattan and the harbor. As well as retaining steel, wood and brick from the existing building, the reconstruction is built with energy-efficient systems throughout.
The inaugural season at the centre features the exhibitions “The Power of Two Suns” by Yto Barrada with guest artist Bettina, “Extinct in New York” by Michael Wang and a special installation by Yoko Ono. In the fall, seventeen artists selected for LMCC’s first year-round residency program will participate in an open-studio weekend that will give visitors a glimpse of work in progress in new spaces.